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  • Education Tax Credits and Deductions: English
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  • Education Tax Credit - Claim It - Students: English | ASL

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WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service today reminded parents and students rushing to meet this year's April 17 deadline to be sure and check out several college-related tax benefits before filing their 2011 returns.

Two tax credits and a tax deduction are available to taxpayers who paid tuition and other expenses for an eligible student during 2011. Because an eligible student can be the taxpayer, spouse or dependent, these benefits can, for example, help workers taking continuing education courses and people returning to school, as well as parents paying for their children's college education.

Given the number of different higher education credits and deductions, the IRS reminds taxpayers to carefully review eligibility requirements so they don't overlook these important college benefits. Tax benefits include the following:

  • The American Opportunity Tax Credit helps pay for the first four years of post-secondary education. Tuition, required enrollment fees, books and other required course materials generally qualify, and eligible students must be enrolled at least half time. Qualifying expenses of $4,000 or more in 2011 can earn a taxpayer the maximum credit of $2,500 per student per year. Even taxpayers who owe no tax can get a payment of the credit of up to $1,000 for each eligible student. The credit is claimed on Form 8863. But the IRS warns taxpayers to avoid an often-costly tax scam, currently being promoted widely to senior citizens, low-income families and church members falsely claiming that refunds based on the credit are available, even if they're not currently enrolled in college and even if they went to school decades ago. In addition, some international students, normally considered nonresident aliens for tax purposes, have been improperly advised that they qualify for the credit.
  • The Lifetime Learning Credit, limited to $2,000 per taxpayer per year, can be claimed based on tuition and required enrollment fees paid for any level of post-secondary education. Because of differences between the two credits and the fact that the American Opportunity Tax Credit usually yields greater tax savings at the undergraduate level, the Lifetime Learning Credit may be particularly helpful to graduate students, students taking only one course and those who are not pursuing a degree. The Lifetime Learning Credit is also claimed on Form 8863.
  • The tuition and fees deduction is available for both full-time and part-time students at all levels of post-secondary education. The deduction of up to $4,000 is claimed on Form 8917.

Each year, a student normally receives a Form 1098-T from their college showing tuition payments and other information.

Though a taxpayer often qualifies for more than one of these benefits, he or she can only claim one of them for a particular student in 2011. Income limits and other special rules apply to each of these benefits. The general comparison table in Publication 970 can be a useful guide to taxpayers in determining eligibility for each of these benefits.

Often, tax credits are more valuable, because they reduce the amount of tax owed, whereas deductions reduce the income on which tax is figured. Tax software can often help parents and students determine which benefit yields the greatest tax savings.

Besides these tax benefits, parents, students and former students who made student loan payments during 2011 can deduct up to $2,500 of student loan interest. Normally, borrowers receive from their financial institution Form 1098-E showing student loan interest paid for the year. This deduction is claimed on Form 1040 Line 33 or Form 1040A Line 18. Income limits and other special rules apply. For example, the student must have been enrolled at least half time in a degree or certificate program. A worksheet in the tax form instructions can help taxpayers figure the deduction correctly.

The student loan interest deduction, the tuition and fees deduction and both tax credits can be claimed by eligible taxpayers, regardless of whether they itemize deductions on Schedule A. These benefits are available to both Form 1040 and 1040A filers. Details on these and other education-related deductions and credits can be found in the Tax Benefits for Education Information Center on IRS.gov.

TaxACT Free Federal and Deluxe Editions will help you determine whether you qualify for these education tax benefits and help you get your biggest guaranteed refund. Start your return now.

You can also use TaxACT's College Tax Whiz to learn about 10 education tax breaks.

March 2015
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Upcoming Tax Dates

March 2All businesses
File information returns (for example, Forms 1099) for certain payments you made during 2014.

March 2Farmers & fishermen
File your 2014 income tax return (Form 1040) and pay any tax due - Details

March 2Payers of gambling winnings.
File Form 1096 along with Copy A of all the Forms W2G you issued for 2014. If you file Forms W2G electronically, your due date for filing them with the IRS will be extended to March 31. The due date for giving the recipient these forms remains February 2.

March 2 All employers
File Form W3, Transmittal of Wage and Tax Statements, along with Copy A of all the Forms W2 you issued for 2014. If you file Forms W2 electronically, your due date for filing them with the SSA will be extended to March 31. The due date for giving the recipient these forms remains February 2.

March 2 Large food and beverage establishment employers
File Form 8027, Employer's Annual Information Return of Tip Income and Allocated Tips. Use Form 8027T, Transmittal of Employer's Annual Information Return of Tip Income and Allocated Tips, to summarize and transmit Forms 8027 if you have more than one establishment. If you file Forms 8027 electronically, your due date for filing them with the IRS will be extended to March 31.

March 2 Wagering tax
File Form 730 and pay the tax on wagers accepted during January.

March 2 Heavy highway vehicle use tax
File Form 2290 and pay the tax for vehicles first used in January.

March 10 Employees who work for tips
If you received $20 or more in tips during February, report them to your employer - Details

March 11 Communications and air transportation taxes under the alternative method.
Deposit the tax included in amounts billed or tickets sold during the first 15 days of February.

March 13 Regular method taxes
Deposit the tax for the last 13 days of February.

March 16 Corporations
File a 2014 calendar year income tax return (Form 1120) and pay any tax due - Details

March 16 S Corporations
File a 2014 calendar year income tax return (Form 1120S) and pay any tax due - Details

March 16 S Corporation election
File Form 2553, Election by a Small Business Corporation, to elect to be treated as an S corporation beginning with calendar year 2015. If Form 2553 is filed late, S corporation treatment will begin with calendar year 2016.

March 16 Electing larger partnerships
Provide each partner with a copy of Schedule K1 (Form 1065B), Partner's Share of Income (Loss) From an Electing Large Partnership, or a substitute Schedule K1. This due date applies even if the partnership requests an extension of time to file the Form 1065B by filing Form 7004

March 16 Social security, Medicare, and withheld income tax
If the monthly deposit rule Page 6 Publication 509 (2015) applies, deposit the tax for payments in February.

March 16 Nonpayroll withholding
If the monthly deposit rule applies, deposit the tax for payments in February.

March 25 Communications and air transportation taxes under the alternative method.
Deposit the tax included in amounts billed or tickets sold during the last 14 days of February.

March 27 Regular method taxes
Deposit the tax for the first 15 days of March.

March 31 Electronic filing of Forms W2
File copies of all the Forms W2 you issued for 2014. This due date applies only if you electronically file.

March 31 Electronic filing of Forms W2G
File copies of all the Forms W2G you issued for 2014. This due date applies only if you electronically file.

March 31 Electronic filing of Forms 8027
File Forms 8027 for 2014. This due date applies only if you electronically file.

March 31 Wagering tax
File Form 730 and pay the tax on wagers accepted during February.

March 31 Heavy highway vehicle use tax
File Form 2290 and pay the tax for vehicles first used in February.

March 31 Electronic filing of Forms 1097, 1098, 1099, 3921, 3922, and W2G.
File Forms 1097, 1098, 1099, 3921, 3922, and W2G with the IRS. This due date applies only if you file electronically. Otherwise, see March 2. The due date for giving the recipient these forms generally remains February 2. View More Tax Dates